Language Training Center Staff | Concordia Language Villages

Language Training Center Staff

Martin Graefe is the senior group director and director for the Concordia Language Training Center of Concordia Language Villages. He has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 32 years, being introduced to the Villages via weekend programs for school groups, including eight years as director for year-round programs and ten years as the associate director for operations. Over the years, he has focused on new program development, specifically for pre-K and Adventure Day Camp programs as well as family programs. Most recently, Martin has focused on developing and advancing the Concordia Language Training Center programs for U.S. government employees, building on the successful partnerships developed with the U.S. Department of Defense. He is a native of Germany and has studied French. Martin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D. and a master’s degree in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Since joining the Villages, he has been an active member of the Bemidji, Minn. community, with Rotary International and the American Camp Association.

Sara Shams Nimis holds a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Georgetown University and an MA in Political Science from Miami University. Her passion for Arabic-speaking communities, and for promoting understanding across cultures, grew out of years working, studying and traveling in Morocco, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, where she was awarded a graduate diploma in Middle East Studies and an advanced diploma in Arabic language (CASA) at the American University in Cairo. Besides teaching for ten seasons in the youth Language Villages, Nimis has taught Arabic language at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., at Georgetown University campuses in Washington, D.C. and in Doha, Qatar, and in the Concordia Language Training Center program. She currently serves as Associate Director for program, supporting all languages at the Concordia Language Training Center.


Jillian Olivia Flom is the Assistant to the Director for the Concordia Language Training Center, focusing on logistical support and financial management. She has been working with Concordia Language Villages since the summer of 2010 when she started as a camp counselor at Skogfjorden, the Norwegian Language Village. Jillian holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In addition to her work with the Language Training Center, Jillian also serves as Concordia Language Villages’s Site Rental Coordinator & Summer Staff Orientation Coordinator.

Marty Jost Fankhanel is the Program and Support Specialist in the Concordia Language Training Center of Concordia Language Villages.  He has worked with Concordia for 13 summers. He researched Urdu and Hindi languages through the National Security Education Program’s Boren Fellowship with the American Institute of Indian Studies in Lucknow, India as well as University of Madison’s South Asia Summer Language Institute. Furthermore, he is practiced in Albanian language and culture through experience as Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English and working with Youth Development in rural Albania. He is a graduate of Concordia College and former AmeriCorps NCCC Team leader. He has his Masters of Science in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato. As a member of the Concordia Language Training Center he focuses on staff development and support, experiential curriculum expansion, and outdoor task-based education.  He is conversational in Spanish, German, French, Albanian, and Urdu.